A municipal court judge ruled Thursday that Victor Alfieri is not guilty of violating a town law by keeping three hens on his property.
Judge Lawrence Katz's ruling represents a months-long battle between Alfieri and town officials over the rights of residents to keep hens on private property.
“This whole thing has been very stressful for my wife and I,” said Alfieri, an advocate of sustainability. “I’m glad it’s over. It’s a great victory for health and sustainability.”
Alfieri has kept three hens on his property for about three years. The hens live in a fenced-in chicken run and coop in his backyard.
“Raising backyard hens has improved my life and it’s just wonderful now that all Wayne residents can start to enjoy the same benefits,” Alfieri said.
Alfieri after town planner John Szabo issued Alfieri a summons earlier this year for keeping the hens on his property. The hens each lay 300 eggs a year. Alfieri does not sell the eggs nor does he use the hens for breeding.
Alfieri argued that because the hens are not being used to make a profit, the ordinance governing the keeping of hens on private property does not apply to him. He contended that the law applies to commercial agricultural uses.
Alfieri has previously said that hens are a vital part of the sustainable living movement. He earlier this year that would've changed the minimum lot size required for residents to own hens from 2 acres to a quarter of an acre. The council on the ordinance. Alfieri owns about a quarter of an acre of land. He’s been trying to get the law changed for years.
Alfieri said town officials called him a “lawbreaker” for owning the hens.
“Wayne town officials were interpreting the chicken law incorrectly, enforcing a law that does not exist and I proved it in court,” Alfieri said. “Raising chickens in Wayne is not illegal and never was.”
Alfieri owns the hens and has several small gardens on his property. He harvests thousands of pounds of produce from them every year. He also runs a Web site where he tries to educate and encourage others to live more sustainable lives.
“I will continue to fight and help other chicken owners in other towns in their pursuit in changing their laws,” Alfieri said.